Hong Kong NGO and JWT tackle sexism in the workplace

Non-governmental organisation The Women’s Foundation and J. Walter Thompson Hong Kong have launched a provocative campaign against sexism in the workplace.

The campaign challenges the use of the Cantonese phrase ‘Career Lines’ as a form of casual sexism. Although the phrase literally means position of employment, it is now widely used in everyday speech, especially in tabloid newspapers, to describe a woman’s cleavage.

To raise awareness of the wider issues surrounding objectification and inequality, JWT created a website and an online campaign promoting a non-existent plastic surgery clinic called Career Lines.

The agency also set up a booth outside Hong Kong University for three days pretending to promote the clinic’s capability to enhance a woman’s cleavage and help her stand out in a competitive job market.

On International Women’s Day, the NGO revealed the surgery was a stunt at a press conference and the fictitious website was switched to a real online platform for the #MyRealCareerLine campaign.

Female figures from Hong Kong’s  media, entertainment, business and sports supported the #MyRealCareerLine campaign by sharing the story behind their ‘real career line’ in a short film directed by celebrated television commercial director, writer and blogger Bud Ming.

These include Olympic swimmer Stephanie Au, Freshfields partner and China chairman Teresa Ko, model Janet Ma, World Snooker Champion On-yee Ng and illustrator Stella So, among others. After sharing their stories, the film shows the women ripping up a poster of a stylised cleavage. Website visitors can also take part in the campaign by uploading their own headshots that are superimposed on the image of someone tearing up a poster of the same cleavage.

“We needed to do something disruptive to get people to rethink the term. With the stunt plastic surgery firm, we took the notion behind the phrase to an extreme to show the absurdity of it, and to raise awareness of this sort of everyday, casual sexism that people have become almost numb to,” said JWT Hong Kong’s head of strategic planning Jocelyn Tse.

In a recent poll by Edelman Intelligence, 40 per cent of respondents said women in Hong Kong are routinely the subject of inappropriate comments on their body parts within the office. Sixty-two of women said they felt discriminated against based on their looks, while a quarter of men aged between 31 and 40 believed a woman’s success is based on her physical appearance, the survey revealed.



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